Facts about the superfood cacao
Updated: May 2, 2019
Costa Dulce is not only paradise for the eyes, it’s also pure happiness for your heart, your soul and taste buds. Discover all about cacao in Costa Dulce, its health benefits and its use in wellness and ceremonial context.
HISTORY OF CACAO
Some people say cocoa, some say cacao, but there is a slight difference:
Cacao is the tree; what’s made from it is cacao.
Cacao has been known as the food of the gods.
Pure Cacao has a very rich chocolate taste, but is also bitter. The taste will vary depending on a number of different factors, variety of plant, temperature, soil, rain and sunlight.
The earliest known processing of cacoa goes back as far as 1,400 BC by the Mayan civilization. It appears they were making a some kind chocolate boozy drink. Cocao beans were prized for their medicinal and aphrodisiac properties, so they traded just like currency amon ancient South and Central American civilizations.
Raw cacao powder contains more than 300 different chemical compounds and nearly four times the antioxidant power of your average dark chocolate - more than 20 times than that of blueberries. Protein, calcium, carotene, thiamin, riboflavin, magnesium, sulfur, flavonoids, antioxidants, and essential fatty acids are also present. The precise blend of all these elements combined serve to kick in naturally occurring phytochemicals that have incredible benefits throughout the body, such as lowered LDL cholesterol, improved heart function, and reduced cancer risk (Read more about the health benefits of Cacao below).
So for these reasons we like to grind our own. And add to smoothies, make delicious desserts, and perhaps the odd boozy drink as a ceremony. For health and taste.
FROM RAW CACAO TO HANDMADE CHOCOLATE
At Costa Dulce we buy our organic cacao beans from Nicaraguan cacao farmers, which are traded fairly. Afterwards the beans are carefully selected by hand to ensure the highest possible quality for our home-made chocolate products.
So how do we make these delicious treats? Discover it here.
Please be aware that reading this blog/ watching the pictures & video's can induce an instant chocolate cravings.
Then we peel the beans. leaving them looking a little different. This proces is facilitated by roasting the beans until they get a dark brown color and the chocolate smell is released. After this, they are peeled more easily.
Next comes the fun part. Mashing the beans with stone age technology. We use the traditional 'piedra de moler' or stone grinder, which is a tool from Mayan culture to grind cacao by hand. This is quite a physical workout, but definitely worth the time and effort once you see and smell the raw pure chocolate paste.
This Cacao paste is the PUREST form of 100% cacao chocolate and is heated up gently into the final product. Depending on the further usage / final product we add several other ingredients like dulce (panela), which is a natural sweetener, vanilla, cinnamon, coco or organic Nicaraguan nuts (cashew, peanuts,...).
After mixing and matching all these natural products, the liquid chocolate is spread on a tray to rest for about six hours in the freezer (if we can wait this long of course!).
At Costa Dulce we try to involve our guests as much as possible in the production of our local, home-made cuisine & wellness products. Experience the art of chocolate making first-row and participate in this unique, ancient process while visiting.
CACAO AS A WELLNESS PRODUCT
At Costa Dulce we don't only take care of our bodies by proper nourishment, but by our signature natural beauty treatments as well. Given the many advantages of cacao for the body, it is an integral part of our skin care arrangement.
While eating fresh Nicaraguan chocolate definitely makes you happy & high, using it as a beauty product makes your skin look amazingly fly! Using cacao as a beauty booster prevents blackheads, deeply nourishes and hydrates the skin - It contains oleic, palmitic, and stearic acids- and has a strong anti-aging capacity because it fights free radicals..
It's free radicals that cause skin ageing and dull skin and tackling them is crucial to make the skin youthful looking and healthy. Cacao is also said to have anti-inflammatory properties and is said to be effective in treating skin problems such as eczema and dermatitis.
CACAO FOR THE SOUL : CACAO CEREMONY
Many ingredients of the cacao plant are not only advantageous for body, but also for the soul. Ancient tribes in Central / South - America have been drinking cacao in is rawest form for ages and nowadays the many advantages of the magic drink are getting widely spread.
In a ceremonial context, the main focus lies on the mental / emotional and spiritual advantages a person can experience by its use, while still benefiting the kidney / liver detox the consumption of raw cacao is.
Consuming cacao in higher proportions (about 40 grams per portion) - with its active ingredient theobromine - can release dopamine, which induces a strong sense of pleasure, alongside phenethylamine, which releases stress.
Stress-relief and dopamine release facilitate the journey of the cacao plant or so-called plant medicine. The term medicine is appropriate, because it is said to heighten consciousness and 'cure' mental & physical disease as a result of unhealthy conditioning and thought patterns.
While ceremonies are done in many different ways - depending on the teacher or 'shaman'- they often involve intention setting, group sharing, chanting, connection to the four elements and occasional guided meditation.
Cacao is said to support our self-love journey, by opening our hearts and minds to experience a greater sense of presence and connection to ourselves and others.
At Costa Dulce ceremonies are done frequently, please inquiry about further healing / plant medicine workshops.
THE HEALTH BENEFITS OF CACAO
Cacao was already praised in the Mayan culture as a superfood or 'food of the gods'
and nowadays our body, mind & soul can still benefit from this ancient treat.
Let's sum up some of the most well-known health benefits of cacao:
1. Cacao is an important antioxidant, which means it protects the body from free radicals damage, because it limits the oxidation process in the cells to slow down/ stop cell-damage.
2. Cacoa's active ingredients : anandamide, endorphins, phenylethylamine and serotonin benefit the brain. They are anti-inflammatory, increase memory and reduce stress levels.
3. Cacao boosts your belly & therefore your immune system, by increasing the number of healthy bacterias in the gut, it is a real gift for your overal well-being.
4. Cacao -and its active ingredients anandamide & phenyl ethyl amine- induces vasodilation or relaxing in the blood vessels, enhancing the general blood flow in the body. This provokes a feeling of well-being and relaxation and is related to its aphrodisiac qualities, smoothing muscles in the genitalia.